Tanya Kapadia, 28, doesn't have a resume. That's because she has always worked for herself. She runs Id8, a successful PR agency that she started in 2002, and now boasts of clients like Jimmy Choo, Tommy Hilfiger, Manish Malhotra, Mocha, Saltwater Grill, Sula Vineyards, among others.
But Kapadia has travelled the trial-and-error route to get where she is. It all happened one afternoon in the year 2001, when Riyaaz Amlani, better known as the man who gave the city Mocha, just handed over part of the PR campaign for his first outlet at Churchgate to Kapadia. "Riyaaz is an old friend," explained the Jai Hind graduate. "He saw the potential in me but I was scared. Except for a nine-month course in public relations from XIC (Xavier's Institute of Communication) and some experience working with Meeta Bajaj of Coffee Communications. I had no credibility."
But as is the case with all great careers, Kapadia accepted the challenge. "Mocha as a brand excited me," said Kapadia, a big foodie herself. "I loved the idea of large dessert portions and shakes. We started the Mocha film club, which did extremely well. Riyaz was happy, and so was I."
The next stroke of luck beckoned Kapadia towards another big brand in the making -- Provogue. Salil Chaturvedi of Provogue wanted to know who did the PR for Mocha, and the next thing Kapadia knew, she was handling the Provogue Society Achievers Awards night. "It wasn't easy," she said. "When you are new in the field, everything is intimidating. But I also know that if it's a brand that I like and believe in, I will never say no."
She roped in a friend to help her with the Provogue event. It's a no-brainer that the event was a success, because the offers started pouring in. "I don't even remember who my third or fourth clients were, because my projects just grew manifold. And I still didn't have a registered PR agency," said Kapadia, who had never thought of running her own firm. "Some people have it all charted out right in the beginning, but I didn't. I fumbled my way through things, and finally started Id8 with the help of Riyaz and a friend from school, Amrita," said Kapadia, who registered the agency in 2002-end and began operating out of a rented garage in a building at Marine Drive.
"We grew to a team of 10 people functioning out of that 300 sq ft space we called an office. But we stay put there for a year-and-a-half," recalled Kapadia, who, today, rents an office measuring 1,100 square feet at Khar, and employs 15 people. "Id8 started as a PR agency but today, it's a holistic brand consultancy. Believe it or not, it's still getting crowded and I'm looking for a bigger space," she said, grinning.
At 28, the achievements are plenty, and the client list runs long, but Kapadia is not about to gloat. "I'm happy to have set my own route. I live and learn," she said. She wakes up each day to a variety of publications - newspapers and magazines - and scans the day's news and features. "In this business, you've got to love news. And then, you have to understand how newspapers and journalists function," said the self-starter.
"PR is not about making press kits and sending them to journalists. That's what you learn to do as an intern. And it's also not about going to the best parties in town. It's about understanding a brand from the points of view of the client, media and the PR agency. At the end of the day, PR is only successful if it translates into bottomline sales for the company," she averred.
The entrepreneur is candid about the fact that there's money to be made in the business, but at this point, she wants to invest most of the earnings back into the company. "I draw a salary as CEO and proprietor of the agency because I like to draw boundaries on the outgoings. Id8 is my baby and I don't know how large I'm going to make it, but I do know that I can't imagine doing anything else," she said.